Photo by Robin Alberti
Kids prepare for a guided snowmobile tour driving their own small sleds at Vermont Snowmobile Tours in Killington. Child size snowmobiles are available at Killington and Okemo.
By Karen Lorentz
It’s called après-ski—the activities enjoyed after slope time can be as memorable as your day sliding downhill. Assuming that you or your kids haven’t run out of energy, here are a few things you can do that might provide that special memory that distinguishes one vacation from another.
These activities are also great for those who don’t ski or snowboard or for those who simply want something to do on a day off.
New kinds of fun
For something really new, try riding a “fat bike” in the snow! Fat bikes are like mountain bikes with large frames, wider hubs and huge tires for better flotation, traction, and stability in the snow. Rentals are offered by Fat Bike Vermont, (802) 457-7057 at Killington Resort for riding on groomed trails at the Resort’s tubing park and golf course, as well as at Mountain Meadows X-C Center at (802) 775-7077, on Route 4, facing Killington Road.
Okemo at (802) 228-1600 has a new snowmobile experience for youngsters ages 5-12. Kids drive kid-sized snowmobiles on a 15-minute guided tour on the Paleo Field at Jackson Gore. Also available at Vermont Snowmobile tours with tours in Killington, 422-2121.
For fun exploration by foot-and-leg power, Bear Trax Adventures at (978) 808-6044 offers a variety of new snowshoe tours around Killington. There are tours for beginners to experts, ranging from easy rambles on the Resort’s golf course to an advanced climb to the top of Pico. Check out Killington.com for details and expand your snow travel repertoire with some fun exercise!
Also new, the ART Garage on Killington Road next to Wally’s American Grill offers daily drop-in studio hours (Thursdays through Mondays and every day during holiday weeks), where adults and kids can engage in creative explorations using a variety of new and used materials. The Après-Ski Kids Creative Club for youngsters ages 8-12 is offered on Saturdays and holiday weeks. The two-hour sessions of hands-on art and activities include salad, pizza and cider. There are two time slots: 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required; contact them at (802) 422-8844.
Even more outdoor and indoor fun
Tubing parks are terrific for all ages (though participants must be at least three-and-a-half feet feet tall). Killington’s grandkid-and-adult-approved tubing park is located across the road from the Grand Hotel. There’s parking and a clubhouse with food and beverages as well a ticket desk. Current hours are 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 10 am to 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 7p.m. Sundays, plus 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily between Feb. 15 and 20.
Okemo’s tubing park is located at Jackson Gore, where there’s also a Timber Ripper (mountain coaster) that lets you control your speed—or not, if you dare to go the limit. Folks can ride individually or in twos, but drivers need to be at least four feet r and riders at least three feet tall.
A snowcat-drawn sleigh ride—in a open air sleigh with seats made from old chairlifts—over the trails to the Ledgewood Yurt is a special treat and is offered at 5 p.m. Saturdays through March 28 and Feb. 14-21. Gather ahead of time at Killington’s Vermont Fresh Café in the Snowshed Lodge (overlooking the slopes where you will see the sleigh) for the 20-30 minute ride. Get tickets ahead of time, as seating is limited.
Okemo offers hour-long snowcat excursions starting from Jackson Gore daily from Feb. 14 to 21 as well as Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
For guests who don’t partake in skiing or riding but who might want to meet skiing or riding family members for lunch, the K-1 Gondola offers scenic rides to Killington Peak, where you can take a short walk (over the snow, so boots with snow treads are advised) to the Peak Lodge for libations and a really good lunch to match the spectacular views.
Spas and pools
If you stay at Killington’s Grand Hotel or Okemo’s Jackson Gore, outdoor swimming pools and whirlpools are available. Sitting in a heated pool surrounded by snow is a real treat!
If staying at a property without a pool, indoor pools are available. The Pico Sports Center, (802) 422-1400, has an Olympic sized pool that is open to the public. For non-swimmers or if you’re not in the mood, there are classes and workout equipment. If you have teens, you can really tire them out here, or introduce them to Yoga.
The Spa at the Woods also offers day passes with a pool, hot tub, sauna and full spa services on Killington Road.
Okemo has the Spring House, (802) 228-1419, with pools, hot tubs, fitness center, classes, and massage and spa services (802) 422-3139.
The Killington Grand Hotel Spa offers massages, facials, nail services, and body treatments to work out the kinks. Spa guests also get complimentary access to the health club, which features a 75-foot outdoor heated pool and hot tubs, sauna and steam room, and fitness center equipped with the latest in cardiovascular equipment and free weights. (Spa reservations are required; call 802-422-1050.)
Additional activities close by
Mountain Meadows X-C Center at (802) 775-7077, which is located behind Base Camp Outfitters (opposite the foot of Killington Road on U.S. Route 4), offers 30 km of trails and is nicely situated for trekking around nearby Kent Pond. They rent snowshoes and cross-country skis and give lessons; fat bikes are also available for rent.
Ice skating on Summit Pond in Killington is open Wed.-Fri. from 4-10 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 2-10 p.m., rentals are available for $8, admission is $5 for adults, kids under 5 years old are free. Vermonters also skate free on Wednesdays with a valid state licence.
An enclosed rink for skating is also avaliable nearby at the Ice House at Okemo’s Jackson Gore.
The Mountain Top Inn and Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Center, (802) 483-6089, in nearby Chittenden offers a nice day’s side trip with Nordic and snowshoe trails and spectacular views overlooking the Chittenden Reservoir and the Green Mountain National Forest. They offer rentals and lessons and have pulks for those with babes or toddlers to tow. Horse-drawn sleigh rides and snowmobile guided tours are also offered, and there’s a new tubing park (minimum required height, three-and-a-half feet). The free Nordic Quest makes for a fun family outing, too. You can lunch at the Nordic Center or the Inn, where fine dining is available.
The Okemo Valley Golf Course/Nordic Center also offers snowshoeing and cross-country trails with rentals available. Golfers in the group? Try the indoor Golf Simulator!
Looking for cultural and educational experiences?
Get your imagination in gear at the new Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, 11 Center Street in downtown Rutland, (802) 282-2678. Across the street find the historic Paramount Theatre (www.paramountvt.org) which brings in an impressive lineup of nationally-known shows. Around the block you’ll find the Energy Innovation Center with interactive educational displays on new efficiencies.